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WHO dissenter warns against plans to retain smallpox virus

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7329.69/c (Published 12 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:69
  1. Rohit Sharma
  1. Mumbai

    A leading expert on biological warfare is infuriated by the latest recommendations from the World Health Organization calling for stocks of the smallpox virus to be kept beyond 2002, despite earlier plans to destroy them by the end of this year.

    Kalyan Banerjee, a dissenting member of the WHO's ad hoc committee on orthopoxviruses, is concerned that the committee's recent decision to allow continuing research using the live variola virus may enable the US military to develop smallpox as a weapon.

    The proposals follow closely on the heels of the US's unilateral decision to retain indefinitely under its control the remaining smallpox virus stocks entrusted to it and to a Russian laboratory by various countries, in line with WHO's recommendations.

    It also follows an announcement …

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